DAY 1. HANOI – NINH BINH [-/L/-]
08:00: Depart from your hotel for a 2,5 hour drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu, the capical of Vietnam in the 10th century. Visit the two remaining sanctuaries of the ancient citadel: temples dedicated to Emperor Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty. The late morning, depart for Tam Coc town for a Vietnamese lunch, along the way stop where you wish to take pictures of local villages and the stunning landscape.
After lunch board your private sampan* (see options for Tam Coc sampan trip below). As the boat gently slices through the water, notice the enormous limestone karsts jutting out from the green rice fields giving rise to another name “Halong on land”.
Should you feel adventurous climb up to Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain, dating to 1428 and comprising three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong pagodas, in ascending order.
*Option 1: Trang An
Situated near Tam Coc, Trang An is a nature reserve similar to Tam Coc but less visited. Limestone hills surround a peaceful river that passes through a series of caves (one which takes 15-minutes to pass through in darkness). An ‘eco tourism’ area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.
*Option 2: Thung Nham
A rowboat ride on a small river through 3 caves give you the impression of being in a magical space. Inside the 3rd cave, there is a large stone resembling an elongated Buddha that brings luck, happiness and prosperity to man. This place is called the cave of Buddha. Then landing for a walk (10 minutes) in the amount up to Thien Ha cave (Celestre river) where you will continue a boat ride inside the cave over 300 meters with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites.
Check in hotel in Ninh Binh at the end of the day. Dinner on your own. Night at hotel.
DAY 2: NINH BINH – THAI BINH – HANOI / HAI PHONG [B/L/-]
Breakfast at hotel. 07:45: Depart to Thai Binh province for an in-depth discovery of the Red River delta life: the century-old temples and pagodas, the tranquil villages with authentic lifestyle, the peaceful countryside, and surprising encounters….
09:00:Visit the Keo pagoda which is one of the most unique and spectacular structures in Vietnam.
10:00: Continue to a peaceful and luxuriant village (30 minutes) located on the bank of the Red river which is recently known for growing mulberry and raising silkworms. During your time with the villagers, you will learn about the sericulture technique: from mulberry cultivation to the life cycle of a silkworm and how to rear them.
Lunch at the home of a local family in the village. After lunch, depart to Nam Cao village where you will discover the traditional method of weaving which has exisited and developed for many generations.
Heading to Dong Xam carved silver village. The village is widely famous for its silver processing which has existed since the 17th century. The fame of Dong Xam Silver is known not only in Vietnam, but also overseas. Dong Xam’s silver products are characterized by strange styles of cube and appearance as well as sophisticated and well-proportioned decorations under delicate and perfect skill. Walking around the village, meeting with artists to discover their unique technique and visiting Dong Xam temple, dedicated to Nguyen Kim Lau, the founder of silver engraving work. The temple consists of a number of magnificent and beautiful architectural works.
16:15: Return to Hanoi (2.5 hours) or continue to Hai Phong (1.5 hour).